Encouraging the Health and Wellbeing of Senior Pets
As your pet ages, you may begin to notice a decline in mobility or energy levels. Common to senior pets is a range of health conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, hip dysplasia, skin tumors and more. While we cannot stop the passing of time and the aging process, there are developments in the field of veterinary medicine in orthopedic services, cancer treatment, surgery, diagnostics and physical rehabilitation that improve quality of life for senior pets, and therefore your pet’s overall wellbeing.
One of the ways we can aid our senior companions in continuing to live a full life relies on pain management and disease prevention strategies. It is also important to focus on enhancing daily care, which is aimed at educating pet owners on ways to better care for their elderly best friends.
Pain Management and Chronic Conditions
Since our pets cannot communicate their discomfort, we have become better informed on how to recognize the presence of pain, even when tell-tale physical symptoms are absent.
Symptoms such as difficulty climbing stairs, inability to get comfortable (repositioning and restlessness), limping, and behavioral changes like withdrawal or aggression, are red flags we need to recognize that our pets are in pain.
Fortunately, there are far more options in pain management now. It is a matter of finding the right combination to alleviate the suffering of our elderly pet companions.
Companion Laser Therapy
Companion laser therapy is one such treatment that has been effective in decreasing pain while enhancing or speeding up the healing process. Laser therapy is often used as a complementary modality for treating joint degenerative disease. It can also speed healing after injuries or surgical procedures.
Essentially, laser therapy works via a handheld wand that emits photons or powerful light rays to the targeted site, increasing blood flow and stimulating healing. It is a pain-free, noninvasive option in treating conditions common to aging cat and dog companions.
Another way we help pets heal from injuries and surgeries, as well as better contend with chronic conditions, is physical therapy. Much like what you know about human physical therapy, this rehabilitation involves therapeutic exercises that improve mobility, circulation, and muscle strength.
Physical therapy often includes low-impact underwater therapy, electrical stimulation, and low impact/low weight bearing exercises. These can all be effective in treating conditions such as hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and other joint issues faced by senior pets.
Biannual Wellness Examinations
Because we cannot always see changes in our pet’s physical health, it’s important once a cat or dog reaches the age of 6 and up that he be seen twice a year. More frequent wellness visits help to prevent conditions from worsening and can allow for earlier diagnosis and more successful treatment.
With older pets, it also allows us to gauge pain levels and monitor for changes to muscle density, vision and hearing changes, blood chemistry concerns, and other age-related changes. Essentially, biannual wellness exams are critical to the health of your senior pet.
Life-Enhancing Daily Care Tips for Senior Pets
Along with senior wellness care through your veterinary visits, you can also help give your pet a healthier life through daily care choices.
Some ways to encourage health include:
- Managing your pet’s weight through portion control and nutrition
- Providing a comfortable bed for your senior pet that is located in a climate controlled area free from drafts and off hard, cold floors
- Following recommendations for low impact exercise
- Providing your pet with the same amount of interaction, attention, and love despite his limitations (we all get older!)
If you have noticed changes in your pet’s behavior or mobility, or would like recommendations on how to better care for your senior, please call us at All Pets Veterinary Hospital to schedule an appointment. In addition to our wellness services, we offer advanced veterinary diagnostic and treatment options that go beyond most regular veterinary hospitals.